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Our Fantasy Wine Shop in Batanes February 28, 2009

Posted by Alex Sawit in Stuff in General.

By Alex Sawit

28 February 2009


I’ve come to a decision, Cyrano friends.  I’m going to open a Cyrano wine shop in Batanes.

Yes, Batanes.

I hear you.  I don’t have to be a mind reader to know what you’re thinking, something along the lines of, “WHAT THE &@%#… A WINE SHOP IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE???  HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND???”

Hear me out.  It’s all about location, location, location. That is, a location like the one in this picture:




No, there is no business plan.  No, I don’t expect customers to beat a path to our door – I don’t expect to have any customers, period.  And no, there is no capital investment.  It’s all wishful thinking, sort of.  After all, if other folks can entertain starry eyed visions of building their dream homes, why can’t I dream about opening our wine shop in what is arguably the most magical place in the Philippines?

Sigh… but what a dream it is.

If you’ve never heard of Batanes, it’s the province that lies to the extreme north of the country, so far north that on a clear day it is said that one can see Taiwan from the province’s northernmost island.  Separated from the mainland of Luzon by nearly two hundred kilometers, it remains one of the less accessible destinations in the Philippines due to both its distance from the capital and its vulnerable latitude, which lies in the regular path of some of the country’s most forbidding storms during the typhoon season.  But while these factors have traditionally deterred visitors, they have also allowed Batanes to thrive in isolation as an unspoiled gem of natural and cultural beauty.

Having just returned from there more than a week ago, I will say unequivocally that Filipinos will not find anything more breathtaking anywhere else in their own homeland.  Photographers and film directors love to describe Batanes as the closest thing one can find in the Philippines to a Mediterranean coastline, often drawing comparisons to Italy or Greece. Other travelers speak of Ireland or New Zealand, while I myself have seen Northern California’s jagged coast conjured in a few of the many stunning seascapes to be found in this province.

There is much I want to say about Batanes, that enchanted windswept world wherein time has a different meaning and where the people are the noble guardians of their own identity.  But that’s for another discussion.  For now, I offer Cyrano friends a glimpse of three fantasy locations where I can only dream of opening a shop where we can all hang out to share good wine before a glorious view.  By all means, feel free to tell me which one you like best.



Wine Shop Location No. 1:  “Rakuh a Payaman” on Batan Island

Popularly known outside Batanes as “Marlborough Country,” this communal pasture overlooks a spectacular panorama of the surrounding coast. Laden with spellbinding visual textures, the view starts on the left with Mahatao Lighthouse moving toward Mt. Iraya and the big Pacific Ocean on the right.













Wine Shop Location No. 2:  “Vayang Ranch” on Batan Island

Also referred to in tourist guide books as “The Rolling Hills.” Surrounded by stark, weathered fence posts running along the slopes, the lonely hilltop at the heart of the ranch offers visitors a hauntingly beautiful view of the South China Sea. Wine lovers will definitely want to watch those gorgeous sunsets over the horizon with a glass of vino in hand.

















Wine Shop Location No. 3:  “Saddleback Rock” on Sabtang Island

Overlooking Chamantad Marine Sanctuary is a coastal point leading to the Ivatan village of Chavayan. In the absence of a name, I refer to it as “Saddleback Rock.” Towering above the pounding waves and cutting through the wind from the sea, it forms the right side of a beguiling cove in which turquoise waters transform to aquamarine in the shallows. The clifftop from where these pictures of Saddleback Rock were taken would be an incredible location for our fantasy wine shop.















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